Geoffrey Cooley left no question that he will be a contender for race wins and a championship in the Pro-Buggy Class of the Lucas Oil Off Road Racing Series. Cooley piloted the #22 Alumi Craft / Competitive Metals Pro Buggy to a 5th place finish on Saturday’s Round-3 and then drove to the podium finishing 3rd for Sunday’s round-4. But Cooley’s top finishes didn’t come without some early event adversity.
Cooley was poised to grab the top qualifying time after being the fastest car on the track during Friday’s practice sessions. But he never got a chance to make the qualifying run after getting caught up in an incident that left heavy damage to the right front side of his race car. The Team Competitive crew loaded up the race car and drove it back to the Alumi Craft race shop for repairs.
They tirelessly worked through the night returning Saturday morning with the car ready to race. Cooley had to start at the rear of the field due to not getting a qualifying time. He worked his way from the back to finish in the 5th position. Cooley was even faster on Sunday for round-4. He qualified up front starting 4th and drove to the podium finishing 3rd. It was Cooley’s second podium finish in four races and he hasn’t finished outside the top-five yet this season.
“I can’t even believe this right now,” said Cooley during his podium interview. “This car was junk on Friday night. My crew is the best there is. They worked all night long to get this car back together and now we’re on the podium. I can’t thank them enough. We have some great momentum going right now.”
Dave Mason Jr piloted the #65 Rigid Industries / Competitive Metals Pro-Buggy from an 11th place start to an 11th place finish for Saturday’s round-3. Being a new race car, Mason and his crew are still developing. Mason contended with a car that was down on power. Throughout the weekend the crew worked hard to continually improve upon their speed and ended with a top ten finish in Sunday’s round-4. Mason ran a strong race starting 11th and finishing in 9th place.
“We just don’t have the speed right now,” said Mason. “We have a lot of work to do on this car over the next couple of weeks. I was happy we could come out of here with a top ten finish. But we want to be running up front consistently. We will get there…I have tremendous confidence in my team to get the car better. We will keep working hard and stay focused.”
Justin “Bean” Smith continued his strong qualifying streak by starting up front for Saturday’s round-3. “Bean” started on the outside pole in the #19 Competitive Metals / Metal Mulisha Pro-Lite and quickly moved into the lead position. His truck looked strong until he made contact and caught an edge causing the truck to roll. “Bean” landed on his wheels and continued on. But less than a half lap later a broken track bar would end his day early. The crew worked hard to get the truck repaired and ready for Sunday’s round-4. “Bean” started Sunday’s race in the 10th position and worked his way up to 6th place before taking a hard hit causing the truck to spin out. Despite the truck’s damage “Bean” was determined to come from the back and have a solid finish. But a few laps later a broken transmission would again end his day early.
“It was chaos this weekend,” said “Bean”. “But I’m very thankful for how hard my crew worked to keep us going and to all the support we have in sponsorship and the people who are helping with this program. It’s been a rough start to our first Pro Lite season, but there is still a lot of season left. We will just keep moving forward.”
There was standing room only on both Saturday and Sunday for the first-ever race event on the newly built Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park in Lake Elsinore, California. The Lucas Oil Off Road Racing series and Team Competitive will carry the excitement to the Speedworld Off Road Park in Surprise, Arizona for Rounds 5 & 6 on May 19th and 20th.